KABUL — Taliban forces nearly wiped out an entire Afghan army post, killing 43 soldiers, when they stormed a base with suicide bombers in the strife-torn southern province of Kandahar.
The attack took place Wednesday night after two Humvees packed with explosives were driven into the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar’s Maiwand district, where 60 soldiers were stationed.
Taliban fighters then assaulted the facility, setting off several hours of fighting that killed nearly every Afghan soldier there and wounded nine.
The battle ended with a U.S. airstrike that killed nine Taliban fighters, NATO officials said.
Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said just two soldiers remained unharmed on the base, while six had disappeared.
Taliban attacks on Afghan military and police compounds have increased this past week after U.S. officials met with delegations from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China to discuss the possibility of restarting peace negotiations with the insurgent group.
Earlier this week, a string of Taliban attacks in three separate provinces killed 74 people in some of the deadliest attacks of the year.
Another 12 police officers died in two smaller Taliban strikes earlier Wednesday, government officials said.
Several other planned attacks in Kabul were thwarted by Afghan officials
Afghan officials said Taliban fighters have been turning increasingly to Humvees, the hulking U.S.-made armored vehicles favored by government forces, as a tool for suicide bombs.
The bulky off-road vehicles, taken from Afghan army bases in previous attacks, create more shrapnel when they explode and make it harder for Afghan guards to tell whether an approaching suicide bomber is with the Taliban, government security officials said.
Sayed Salahuddin and Sharif Walid contributed to this report.